Dr Carmen Sánchez-Cañizares awarded the Highly Commended Award For Women In Science Rising Talent Award

Many congratulations to Dr Carmen Sánchez-Cañizares, who was awarded the Highly Commended Award for the L’Oréal-UNESCO UK and Ireland For Women In Science Rising Talent Award in the category of sustainable development.

Dr Sánchez-Cañizares is an agronomist whose research field is plant microbiology, specifically a process called "Biological Nitrogen Fixation", which is the basis of crop rotation worldwide.  This process is carried out by soil bacteria called rhizobia, able to establish a beneficial interaction with legume plants. Rhizobia convert atmospheric nitrogen into a usable form for the plants, working as biofertilizers. She currently works as a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Plant Sciences, in Phil Poole's lab, focusing on the regulation of bacterial metabolism, using rhizobia as her model system. 

Her research aims to study the regulatory mechanisms that allow bacteria to make their own decisions and drive their activities relative to nutrient availability, external signals or stress conditions. These molecular mechanisms enable bacteria to sense different signals and accordingly shape their physiology, ensuring their survival and adaptation. By characterising the regulatory mechanisms controlling bacterial metabolism in a plant-associated bacterium, this research will provide fundamental insights into interactions between microbes and between microbes and their plant partners. The outcome of the project will allow future optimisation of microbial function in agriculture to influence soil fertility and plant growth for sustainable food production and improved crop yields.

Dr Sánchez-Cañizares says, ‘Being one of this year’s finalists for this award among all these inspiring female scientists is a great honour. The L'Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science Rising Talents programme celebrates, enhances, and enables the contribution of women to scientific research. It supports women in early stages of their career as way to give recognition to their work and have role model researchers for our younger generations. This is therefore a fantastic opportunity to highlight the importance of microbes in sustainable agriculture and to give visibility to the research done in the field of nitrogen fixation and plant microbiology, not only among our peers, but also beyond the lab. This prestigious programme represents also a great support for my career and an incredible networking experience that will help me to gain visibility and to reinforce the importance of finding sustainable solutions for our agricultural practices and food production system.’